Monday, December 09, 2013

An indecent society

Back in October, we learned that the Children's Commissioner had been forced to go begging to charity to fund ongoing monitoring of child poverty, after the government had refused to do so. The result was Child Poverty Monitor, a collaboration between the Children's Commissioner, the University of Otago, and the J R McKenzie Trust. Now they've released their first monitoring report [PDF] - and it paints a bleak picture:

More children living in crammed homes are ending up in hospital, as a new report shows one in four children remain mired in poverty.

A new rigorous measure of child poverty released today shows that about one in six Kiwi children are going without basic necessities. This could mean not having a bed, delaying a doctor's visit or missing out on meals.

It also shows hospital admissions for children with medical conditions linked to poverty are rising. Tens of thousands of children are admitted every year for respiratory and infectious diseases associated with living in damp, overcrowded homes.

Using international standard measures, 25% of our children are living in poverty. And its not due to "feckless, lazy parents" - its due to jobs that don't pay enough to live on, persistent unemployment, and insufficient benefit levels.

This is simply indecent, and what's worse is that it is entirely a matter of political choice. Our government could fix this, our government should fix this - not just for moral reasons, but for pragmatic ones: child poverty costs a fortune, now and into the future. But the current government chooses not to. And when confronted with the problem, they giggle at it. I guess sick and starving kids must seem funny if you "earn" $250,000 a year.

This is an indecent government creating an indecent society. They have to go.